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A New Dangerous Trend Among Children: Drinking Hand Sanitizer?

hand sanitizer, child health, children

Children have been spreading dangerous “dares” throughout the years. This newest one involves gulping down hand sanitizer.


Many dare challenges have been around throughout history. In the 20th century, children and teens used to play chicken with trains and cars. Then they inhaled glue, spray paint, and other products with aerosol-like chemicals. In the early 2010s, children were hooked on the cinnamon challenge where they would eat raw cinnamon within a minute.

Now the CDC is worried children are intentionally drinking hand sanitizer as a social thing. They cite a study that found that over 6,000 children between 6 and 12 were misusing hand sanitizer by ingestion. According to Dr. Vikram Tarugu of Gastro in Florida, the 60 to 90 percent content of ethanol or isopropyl alcohol in hand sanitizers could damage the sensitive gastrointestinal tracts of children in these age ranges.

Ingesting hand sanitizer can also cause breathing problems, acidic buildup in organs and tissues, and even seizures or a coma! But the CDC says the most common reactions from children abusing hand sanitizer are vomiting and nausea.

The CDC thinks that most of the incidents occur at schools where hand sanitizer dispensers are installed on the grounds.

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If you have children within these age ranges, here are ways to keep them safe from this very stupid trend:

Teach them. Peer pressure can be tough, but sometimes it's ignorance that pushes kids to do things they shouldn't. Tell your children that it's not healthy or right to drink hand sanitizer. Bring awareness of the consequences and why it's a very dumb thing to do.

Supervise. The CDC advises parents and guardians to never let your children handle hand sanitizer without supervision. This makes sense – some children will eat things by themselves, and this may account for a significant percent of these hand sanitizer abuse incidents.

Don't leave hand sanitizer laying around within the reach of children. If hand sanitizer is reachable, it increases the chances for misuse and abuse by curious children. Keep hand sanitizer out of reach and only let your children use hand sanitizer if you're there. If your children's school has hand sanitizer dispensers installed, talk to the board of education about having faculty supervise their usage.

This hand sanitizer trend is truly scary – and experts say the trend is gaining momentum. But you can help protect your kids by trying these tips.